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A Fresh Perspective from Nolan Benoit

CAMP DREAM, VT - Nolan Benoit is starting his role as Youth Services Manager for DREAM’s Guided Mentoring program in June. Ahead of his official start, attended this year’s DREAMAPALOOZA event at Camp DREAM in April. He is brand new to DREAM and his experience offers an interesting view into the quality of our mentors and the value that training and events like this offer.

DREAMAPALOOZA was a first time event for DREAM and took place at Camp DREAM. If you have ever attended DREAMStock, an annual series of training and bonding for mentors which has evolved into an online series, this event would have looked similar. Mentors from across Vermont made the trip to our rustic headquarters to partake in spirited workshops. Those workshops were led by some of DREAM’s most experienced veterans and some guest experts who spoke on diversity, equity, inclusion and race, among other topics related to mentoring.

Of course, being new, we wanted Nolan to meet EVERYONE and really get immersed in the DREAM experience, so he started his experience welcoming and registering mentors at the front door. This was a great way to learn some names and connect. “It wasn’t intimidating at all,” Nolan says, expressing how he enjoyed the welcome. After everyone arrived, the attendees were split into three groups and rotated between workshops. The following is an account of Nolan’s experience through a series of questions!

What was the most interesting workshop?

In particular, I think it was the DEI training. It was really well run…it allowed people to see others where they’re at and also to grow. Some children have big emotions and can struggle in traditional settings. The workshop gave me tangible tools to work with all types of kids, and to be able to meet them wherever they are at that moment.

How was it to meet the mentors?

It was cool to meet all of the college volunteers. My hat goes off to them, to step up for communities in need is really important. The group of volunteers was diverse as well, which can be really important, especially coming from Vermont, [where diversity can be hard to find]. Having a variety of backgrounds and experiences amongst the mentors made the DEI training even more powerful.